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Blog 1701 Mjriam Bon 1

Faces of Milan: from behind the lens of Mjriam Bon

Watching her walk along the streets of downtown Milan, elegant in her understated simplicity weaving through the alleyways of Magenta and the majestic basilica of S.Marie delle Grazie, it's not difficult to understand how she became a high-profile figure of haute couture.

A face made of bust­ling cat­walks, flashes, and the strict­est stand­ards of beauty. Yet there is noth­ing cold or stand-off­ish in the broad smile that wel­comes us to her home stu­dio just a few steps from Leonar­do’s Last Supper.

Although Mjri­am was born and raised in Venice her light blonde hair, facial fea­tures and name often mis­lead people. At 16 she moved to Mil­an and trav­elled the world as a mod­el, until mak­ing the decision – a nat­ur­al one, she explains – to move to the oth­er side and express her own cre­ativ­ity from behind the cam­er­a’s lens. We inter­viewed her and found out about her latest pro­ject: 30 Shad­ows of 30 Shades of Urb­an Atti­tude”.

You moved from a life spent in front of the cam­era as a tal­en­ted mod­el, to behind the cam­era, which is not a nat­ur­al step for every­one to take. What triggered this decision?
I have always had a pas­sion for pho­to­graphy. Over the years as a mod­el, I brought an ana­log cam­era with me to be able to cap­ture everything that fas­cin­ated me: mod­els, dress­ers, make-up artists, the back­stage. Both posed and can­did shots. And then I would put the cam­era in my suit­case when trav­el­ling on vaca­tion or when trans­ferred around the world for work. It was only a few years ago that I decided to throw cau­tion to the wind and ded­ic­ate myself com­pletely to photography.

A very dif­fer­ent role in a field where you had worked extens­ively. What were the mod­el­ling exper­i­ences that taught you the most and helped you under­stand that pho­to­graphy was your true call­ing?
My exper­i­ence in the world of fash­ion was a career with lots of ups and downs. I began very young; some­times I was a vic­tim, fall­ing into the trap of approv­al and seek­ing a ste­reo­type at all costs, above all in stand­ard meas­ures and size.

It was the birth of Curvy Can that changed everything. With a group of col­leagues, we cre­ated and actu­ated a pro­ject linked to the accept­ance of one’s self and self-aware­ness. It made a very strong media impact, espe­cially on women who exper­i­ence prob­lems linked with eat­ing dis­orders, anor­ex­ia, bulimia, and obesity above all. It was an over­whelm­ing exper­i­ence that brought me to travel and talk about my exper­i­ences at schools and centres with the help of psy­cho­lo­gists and doc­tors. From that moment on, I under­stood that I could use pho­to­graphy to help others.

Through my por­traits, I seek to exalt the self-con­fid­ence of my sub­jects. From the mod­els to free-lance pro­fes­sion­als, from rock stars to theatre act­ors, from noc­turn­al trend­set­ters to house­wives. Each one has their own unique and par­tic­u­lar beauty. I like put­ting people with their back against a wall (both phys­ic­ally and fig­ur­at­ively), with no appar­ent way out, facing me. I try to make them feel com­fort­able. I let them talk to get a story, a facet of their char­ac­ter or a hid­den side of themselves.

Blog 1701 Mjriam Bon

You made a very pre­cise and dif­fi­cult decision to spe­cial­ise in por­traits. Why?
I prefer por­traits because I am fas­cin­ated and attrac­ted by faces, by glances, and by smiles. A glance can tell you so much about someone’s whole life. I’m con­vinced that every­one should have a por­trait of them­selves to immor­tal­ise a moment, to stop time.

Over the forth­com­ing weeks, your col­lab­or­at­ive pro­ject with neubau eye­wear which has been ded­ic­ated to faces will finally come to light. What’s it about?
Neubau eye­wear was born in a place (the Neubau quarter in Vienna) where the inhab­it­ants are dis­tin­guished by their indi­vidu­al­ity and ori­gin­al­ity, where cre­ativ­ity and exper­i­ment­a­tion are a fun­da­ment­al aspect of their DNA. This story fas­cin­ated me and the ana­logy with Mil­an was out­stand­ing. It reawakened in me an aware­ness of these same val­ues in my homet­own. Hence the idea for my new pho­to­graph­ic pro­ject entitled 30 Shades of Urb­an Atti­tude”.

I was moved by a desire to immor­tal­ise many lives and many stor­ies that make our city a hub of cre­ativ­ity, innov­a­tion, exper­i­ment­a­tion, pas­sion, and com­mit­ment. I selec­ted 30 people who could best tell this story: 30 faces, 30 shots, 30 per­sonae of the world of art, fash­ion, design, urb­an cul­ture who wear glasses and through them become spokes­per­sons for a fresh, clean, bold, and cre­at­ive life­style. Like Neubau and like Mil­an. 30 inter­est­ing and dif­fer­ent lives, who have in com­mon a pas­sion for what each of them does. 30 lives to be told through my lens. All in all, a social exper­i­ment that is not only pho­to­graph­ic, but also designs thoughts and expres­sions through the lenses… of both the glasses and the camera.

What pushed you to accept this pro­ject and what do you think of the col­lab­or­a­tions that brands are pro­pos­ing more and more often with artists and per­formers, pro­mot­ing the birth of ori­gin­al and coher­ent con­tents?
Above all, curi­os­ity. 30 Shad­ows of Urb­an Atti­tude” is a very inter­est­ing and effect­ive way of devel­op­ing it. Curi­os­ity pushes me to seek bey­ond appear­ances: a dif­fer­ent look, a light in the eyes that is sub­dued by shy­ness or by the role one plays in soci­ety. I think that if a brand does not present itself as a clas­sic cli­ent, but accepts and under­stands the authen­t­ic spir­it of the artist, let­ting him work freely with his own cre­ativ­ity, it will find a unique and highly effect­ive way of reach­ing its tar­get. And art has a new means of spread­ing and growing.

The phe­nomen­on of gentri­fic­a­tion is trans­form­a­tion entire urb­an areas — once pop­u­lar and indus­tri­al zones – into true artist­ic and cul­tur­al dis­tricts. Which cit­ies have inspired you the most for where you might live?
Dur­ing my career as a mod­el I trav­elled a lot. The cit­ies that inspired me the most were Lon­don and New York. They are so dif­fer­ent from each oth­er and so dif­fer­ent from Italy, to which I am forever bound. I would go to live in New York tomor­row for the atmo­sphere there and for the oppor­tun­ity to suc­ceed in doing what I truly believe in. How­ever, I remain a trav­el­ler with a desire to return.

Would you con­sider a pho­to­graph­ic pro­ject ded­ic­ated to cit­ies and the cre­ativ­ity that is being born therein?
At this time I am spe­cial­ised in por­traits because it is the thing I feel suits me best. But in the future, why not? As I said, curi­os­ity is drives me, so explor­ing new paths is a nat­ur­al consequence.

What is the next pro­ject you have planned, and what would you like to work on?
I love pho­to­graphy and I love the idea of being able to launch pos­it­ive mes­sages through it. My next pro­ject – which I have already begun plan­ning – will be linked to social. But at this time, I would rather not reveal any more.

11 Jan 2017 · neubau eyewear
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